Thursday, November 02, 2006

CEO Craig Dubow reveals strategic plan details

The good news in today's announcement is that CEO Craig Dubow is doing something to reverse reader and advertiser losses by reorganizing news and sales departments to deliver information to all outlets -- not just print and online, but current and future mobile devices.

On the other hand, this looks an awful lot like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. After all, it's to be accomplished with no new hiring. From today's Q&A:

Q. Will there be additional hiring done to fill the Information Center jobs?
A. The Information Center transforms, repurposes and refocuses the resources that exist now. Newspapers are training for new skills in multimedia, assessing needs for library science and archiving expertise and updating job descriptions. Many sites are assessing, updating and training to ensure everyone has the right tools and expertise to transform into Information Center employees.

In theory, Wall Street will like that. But professional investors aren't dopes; they know existing resources can be stretched only so far.

And the employees in charge of execution? They, too, ought to be happy GCI isn't sitting idly by while competitors eat its lunch. But I can hear the groans already: Is it reasonable to expect a reporter or photographer to go to an interview armed with pen and notepad, plus digital video camera, tape recorder, laptop and cellphone -- all so they can write, shoot, record, edit and file from the scene? How's the quality of those multimedia files going to be?

And what about ad sales? Those folks are now supposed to sell ads for cellphones and PDAs while still taking care of the print side?

Young people are drawn to websites and services that companies have spent multi-millions building. They're highly sophisticated operations that set the pace. Ask yourself: Will the renamed Information Centers be competitive? Or are they just Sue Clark-Johnson's desperate attempt to meet Dubow's demands to do something -- anything -- to keep Wall Street at bay without spending more?

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